International Energy Agency (IEA) provides analysis and policy recommendations to promote global energy sustainability. It recently published A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector.
IEA concludes net-zero-emissions (NZE) policies are an absolute necessity and says a major contraction of fossil fuel production is needed. The organization argues that to achieve NZE, the world must open no new oil and natural gas fields. As well, IEA says governments should allow no new coal mines or mine extensions.
Canada’s federal government and its three western provinces are de facto climate change deniers. National Observer labelled this type as denio-osaurs. All are committed to promoting increased production and trade in fossil fuels. But in some respects, British Columbia is worst of all.
In its 2016 report BC’s Dirty Secret – Big Coal and the Export of Global-Warming Pollution, Dogwood Initiative noted:
The BC government has proclaimed it will reduce BC’s greenhouse gas emissions by 33 per cent below 2007 levels by the end of the decade. This goal conceals a double secret: the government does not fully account for heat-trapping pollution from coal mined in BC; and coal mining is expanding in BC.
Regardless of coal mining emissions not recorded, Canadian exports of this commodity have grown by almost one-third in the last five years, most of it loaded in west coast ports. Governments consciously ignore warnings from experts, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, which says that air pollution from burning coal:
…is linked with asthma, cancer, heart and lung ailments, neurological problems, acid rain, global warming, and other severe environmental and public health impacts.Coal and Air Pollution
Public and private bodies are determined to expand coal exports from BC. Prince Rupert’s Ridley Terminals—90% of which was sold by Government of Canada to American private equity firms—are expanding bulk shipment facilities. North Vancouver’s Neptune Terminal is spending almost $1 billion to enlarge its coal port and expansion is planned at Deltaport.
A few months ago, Viewpoint Vancouver reported:
It is Vancouver Port’s dirty secret~American ports on the west coast refuse to ship thermal coal for environmental reasons. But not the Port of Vancouver, which has doubled thermal coal exports in nine years to over 11 million tons. This dirty American coal also moves tariff free.
The Port was relentless in their pursuit of the Terminal 2 prize expansion, despite the fact that Roberts Bank is one of the few places on the planet for the migrating western sandpipers going to their spring Arctic breeding grounds…
Well funded industry lobby groups in British Columbia—Resource Works for example—spread propaganda on behalf of fossil fuel producers. Their message is that infinite growth of the economy is more important than survival of humanity. Shortly after Conservatives Party members voted to reject the notion that climate-change is real, Resources Works applauded the party’s climate policy.
Resource Works wants us to think that resource extraction is a vital contributor to public finances; that we cannot afford schools and hospitals without the industry’s largesse. But companies exploiting BC’s natural resources—largely owned outside the province—don’t want to contribute funds to BC’s public treasury. That’s why corporations pay millions to lobbyists and connected organizations like the one headed by former Vancouver Sun editor Stewart Muir.
From the corporate point of view, this has been a highly effective strategy. Even though Gordon Campbell is viewed as an ideological privatizer of public wealth, Campbell’s Liberal Governments enjoyed substantial cash inflows from oil and gas companies.
So the fossil fuel industry lobbied hard for reductions in government levies. The Campbell administration complied by quietly introducing royalty reduction credits. The extent of these was never publicized. Instead, Liberals issued occasional press releases intended to deceive citizens about the real costs. The 2004-05 Budget and Fiscal Plan first disclosed government’s subsidy programs, suggesting maximum annual costs of $30 million, not credits worth many hundreds of millions of dollars each year:
$10 million annually in road infrastructure royalty credits. These are royalty credits that are matched by industry contributions towards road infrastructure. The province is also assessing the business case for a further $20 million annually in road royalty credits based on industry proposals…
When Christy Clark took the Premier’s chair, financial relief for the oil and gas industry expanded. Under the BC NDP, environmental science was flouted public assistance to fossil fuel producers accelerated. In current dollars, the total cost of royalty reduction programs amounts to more than $12 billion, including $3+ billion accrued that will reduce future royalty payments.
The numbers charted below are taken from annual editions of BC Budget and Fiscal Plans and other Ministry of Finance documents.
With the collapse of government revenue, casual observers might assume natural gas producers were going out of business. In fact, production volumes have grown steadily.